Two writers respond to an upcoming event featuring a controversial film about a pro-Israel group and a local leader with the Zionist Organization of America claims that the group's financial state was misrepresented.
Federation Shouldn’t Sponsor Film Screening
I have been involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for many years and I care deeply about the Jewish community. However, I am most disturbed that Federation and the Exponent are sponsors of the J Street Challenge screening that has been heavily advertised in the Exponent (Headlines: “Pro-Israel Program Sparks Discussion,” March 20).
What is particularly upsetting to me is that Federation does so much good in the community, from feeding the poor to assisting in Jewish education to supporting wonderful programs overseas. But all of this good is contingent on funding. When you alienate an entire group within the Jewish community, you ultimately lose funding dollars. What programming such as this does is hurt the Jewish community.
Federation is not a private club that one donor controls; it is the tent of the entire Jewish community into which all who are part of this community are welcome. In allowing this event to occur, under Federation’s name, you have done it a grave disservice.
Jill Zipin | Horsham
J Street Can’t Buy Protection from Criticism
We are perplexed by Marc Zucker’s objections to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia sponsoring the March 27 screening of our film, The J Street Challenge (Headlines: “Pro-Israel Program Sparks Discussion”).
We made the film to air and debate J Street’s views on Zionist policy and its unprecedented approach to our community’s relationship to Israel. Heretofore, all mainstream Jewish groups, along with the vast majority of American Jews, have agreed that regardless of our differences with the democratically elected government of Israel, it would be wrong to impose our views — by lobbying American administrations — on Israelis, whose lives are on the line. J Street breaks radically with this tradition.
That J Street supporters donate to our federations should not alter this well-founded consensus, nor should it buy J Street protection from reasoned criticism. American Jewish leaders encourage open and free-ranging criticism of Israeli leaders as proof of our democratic values. Why would they portray cogent criticism of the policies of Jewish leaders here as “intolerant”?
Charles Jacobs, president, Americans for Peace and Tolerance
No Financial Malaise at ZOA
It was inaccurate for the Exponent to allege there has been a “recent financial malaise” at the Zionist Organization of America (Community: “Mort Klein Makes News at Convention,” March 20). This false claim was made during the recent election for ZOA president by Klein’s opponent, whose campaign was repudiated by Klein's landslide victory, winning 93 percent of the vote and receiving the unanimous endorsement of ZOA’s 51-member national board, excluding his opponent.
In 2013, ZOA raised more funds than it had raised in over 30 years. ZOA now has millions of dollars in operating reserves even though it has dramatically expanded its staff and pro-Israel activities in recent years.
The national 2013 ZOA dinner had over 800 hundred attendees, including billionaire honorees Miriam and Sheldon Adelson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. There is no malaise in sight; it was a banner year for ZOA.
Kevin Ross, co-president, ZOA Philadelphia National Vice President